If you are an agency (creative, advertising, mobile or digital) and you are new to augmented reality (AR) it is not easy to decide how to convert a creative idea into a fully fledged AR app.
Where do you start? What AR components do you need? What are the ingredients for a great AR app, be it a game, a marketing app or a functional app? What would it cost and how long will it take? How do you measure the Return on Investment (ROI) for the app?
Here is are 4 pointers that you may find helpful:
1. AR DOES NOT NEED TO BE COMPLICATED
Yes, it's true. Mention AR and instinctively people conjure images of 3D objects flying out of a mobile screen with complex graphic animation. True, you could do this but...it is not always essential. Linking physical objects like a packet of cereals to a TV advert can be done easily and economically simply by using image recognition or tracking (tracking will allow you to view the video on top of the box instead of opening a new screen on your device).
2. WHAT DO YOU NEED TO CREATE A GREAT AR APP?
Here is the tricky part -there are several components you could require for an AR app depending on the complexity of what you're looking to do. Take the IKEA AR shop catalogue for 2013 for example. This catalogue has 43 individual images dotted throughout the printed edition that link to digital content. Some link to videos (if you don't have these, you will need to produce them), some link to web pages (virtual stores where you can purchase items) and others still link to 3D animated computer graphics.
The production of the AR app required:
-a Tracking SDK
-an Image Recognition SDK
-creative computer graphics content
-mobile app development
-an AR creator platform to link "virtual buttons" to actual actions within the mobile app
3. WHAT SHOULD THE APP DO?
This links to the first point..."keep it simple" is my advice. It is clear some use cases work better than others and that this varies according to who you are targeting. AR for retail and print works great. Augmenting a magazine, newspaper or catalogue offers clear, tangible benefits to the reader -you see new content that is helpful or entertaining. AR for retail apps makes sense since indoors, GPS doesn't work, so using physical objects or shop signs as pointers for the app to perform an action is a clever workaround. Scan the poster displayed in the shop window and see special offers, for example.
4. WHAT SHOULD AN AR APP COST AND TAKE TO ROLLOUT?
It depends but....simple AR apps can be developed for around $20-25,000 as a very general rule of thumb. Complex ones can easily cost $100,000+ (hence the keep it simple rule!). A marketing app will offer an intangible return in terms of brand awareness and brand loyalty. Other AR apps generate revenue and more than pay for themselves in terms of ROI: a museum app that acts as a guide (audio and video) and lets you scan the popular exhibits to get AR content when you want it, is often offered at a premium in app stores and can have a short payback period.